It took me a while to really grasp the necessity of networking. I am also not one who is naturally adept at it, so it does not come easily to me. I know some of you can commiserate. Thankfully, a Chicago-based start-up has devised a setup that takes the awkwardness and frustration out of networking.
Loop Meetings helps connect young professionals through casual coffee meetings and events for small groups. The result is more meaningful interactions with less distraction.
Currently, Loop Meetings hosts events in several neighborhoods throughout Chicago. It’s easy to register, but some rules apply. For example, they will only accept membership from folks who are currently employed, between the ages of 22-35, and who have a LinkedIn profile. Once you’re in, you pick a time that works for you from the schedule of events, and they will set you up with two people who share similar professional interests.
Founder Laura Rokita came up with the idea for Loop in 2013 after a string of unsuccessful networking attempts.
“I went to a handful of networking events, with friends or coworkers if I could force them to join, and ended up with a bunch of business cards from lawyers, financial advisers, and other aggressive salesmen. I have a feeling you know what I’m talking about if you’ve ever been to a crowded event, juggling your drink and your name tag while trying to avoid eye contact with anyone you don’t know.”
She wanted to create an environment for networking that would be enjoyable and efficient. With this platform, there is also the added benefit of knowing a little about the people you’ll be meeting. You will receive short bios and photos of your coffee dates the day prior.
As someone who is not a natural networker and gets easily overwhelmed at large events, I can see the benefit to this style of event. Keeping my fingers crossed that Loop, or something like it, will soon be popping up in other cities.
Loop Meetings was featured at Tech Cocktail’s Chicago Mixer and Startup Showcase.